June 1, 2009

Predicting Breast Cancer Survival Rates

Two proteins in the blood may predict the chances of long-term survival for breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Researchers measured the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA) in 734 breast cancer patients 31 months after their diagnoses. They found elevated levels of CRP and SAA are associated with lower overall survival, regardless of the woman's age, tumor stage, race and body mass index.

Breast cancer survivors with SAA levels in the highest third were three times more likely to die from the disease within the following seven years compared to women in the lowest third, and women in the highest third of CRP levels were twice as likely to die, researchers said.

"These associations are strong and they suggest that, in the long-term, elevated levels of inflammatory markers predict a woman's chances of surviving after breast cancer," study author Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was quoted as saying.

The researchers said cancer survivors with chronic inflammation may have an increased risk of recurrence due to the effects of inflammatory processes on cell growth or the presence of cancer cells that induce inflammation.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, May 18, 2009